Stars forward Curtis McKenzie is headed back to Dallas today to be evaluated by doctors. McKenzie, who suffered a lower-body injury in Thursday night’s game in Florida on a hit from behind, has been placed on injured reserve.
“He’s very sore, and he is on crutches,” Stars GM Jim Nill said. “Other than that, we don’t know the extent of his injury fully. We know he is very sore and in a lot of pain.”
McKenzie was injured late in the second period of Thursday’s game at Tampa Bay when he slammed into the boards after being hit from behind by Lightning defenseman Nikita Nesterov. McKenzie had to be helped off the ice and was taken to the hospital.
Nesterov, who received a major penalty and a game misconduct for the hit, had a hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety late Friday afternoon. Early Friday evening, the league announced Nesterov received a two-game suspension for boarding.
“Although McKenzie is turning while receiving this pass, at no point from the moment he becomes eligible to be checked does Nesterov see anything other than McKenzie’s back,” the Department of Player Safety said in a video explaining the suspension. “The onus, therefore, is entirely on Nesterov to avoid contact or, at the very least, minimize it. Not only does Nesterov continue with the check, but rather than minimize contact he instead drives into McKenzie and launches him forcefully into the boards causing an injury.”
Under the terms of the CBA, Nesterov will forfeit $7,983.88 in salary. The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.
With McKenzie going on IR, the Stars recalled center Radek Faksa from the Texas Stars of the AHL. Faksa, Dallas’ first-round pick (13th overall) in 2012, scored two goals in Texas’ 5-4 win over San Antonio last weekend in the regular-season opener. Faksa had a strong showing at Dallas’ training camp and was among the final group of players assigned to the AHL before the NHL season began.
The addition of Faksa gives the Stars 13 forwards on their road trip, but Travis Moen could be a question mark for Saturday. Moen did not practice Friday and Stars coach Lindy Ruff indicated it was more than just a maintenance day for the veteran forward.
One other note on the forwards, Ruff said that Valeri Nichushkin, a healthy scratch the past two games, will return to the lineup on Saturday when the Stars play at Florida.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.